Author, Jo Allen joins us today.

Welcome to my blog, Jo and before I ask you a few questions, can you tell me a small bit about yourself please? 

I was born in Wolverhampton and am a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy I took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 I took the plunge and began writing the genre I most like to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, I spend as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all my favourite characters, I love football (for my sins, I’m a season ticket holder with Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats. 

Did you recently have a book published that we can congratulate you on?  Funny you should ask that, Mary! I have a new book to share … it’s a detective novel (with an added touch of romance) and it’s the second in my series set in Cumbria. The series focuses on DCI Jude Satterthwaite, who’s a love-him-or-hate-him character locally. His devotion to his job has already cost him the love of his life and caused series problems in his relationship with his younger brother. Please say you’d like the blurb. You would? Fabulous… 😉 

Blurb for Death at Eden’s End.

When one-hundred-year-old Violet Ross is found dead at Eden’s End, a luxury care home hidden in a secluded nook of the Lake District’s Eden Valley it’s not unexpected. Except for the instantly recognisable look in her lifeless eyes… that of pure terror. DCI Jude Satterthwaite heads up the investigation, but as the deaths start to mount up it’s clear that he, and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran need to uncover a long-buried secret before the killer strikes again… 

Please tell us about your journey to publication.  It’s been long! I have been writing for a very long time and, although I haven’t kept a record of the setbacks along the way (I think it would have broken me) I got my first request for a full manuscript from an agent over twenty years ago. My first short story was published in The People’s Friend in 2008 and it was in 2014 that my first novel, Thank You For the Music, was published by Tirgearr publishing. There were five more contemporary romances with Tirgearr, then three self-published romantic suspense novels, and in late 2018 I signed for three detective novels with Aria Fiction. The first, Death by Dark Waters, came out in May. The second is out today.

Where did the idea for your book come from?  I can’t remember! I do know that my detective novels all begin with the crime, but I couldn’t tell you at what point the idea came to me for this one, though I can probably pinpoint most of the others. At some point I must just have wondered why someone would kill a 100-year old woman who would soon be about to die, but that’s about all I can tell you.

Who has inspired you as an author?  With my romance hat on I’ve always loved Mary Stewart, whose heroines were always feisty and who has the trick of gripping her reader from beginning to end. In terms of crime, I turn to the traditional whodunnits from the Golden Age of detective fiction between the wars. I particularly love Dorothy Sayers, who managed to combine an intellectual puzzle with completely believable characters. They had lives outside their work and who had the same feelings and insecurities as the rest of us.

This is really important to me, probably because I started off as a romance writer. Much as I enjoy Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle, I never quite engaged with them in the same way as I do with Sayers, because their detectives don’t seem to have lives of their own.

Romance in detective fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but I’ve always wanted to write about real people. That goes beyond the criminals and their victims: my detectives have lives, too. And they do fall in and out of love and have problems of their own. So why not tell the reader about it?

What do you do in your free time?  I can potter for Britain! I love going cycling, as long as the weather isn’t too miserable, and I love reading. We’ve just moved to a house with a largish garden and I’m looking forward to spending some time growing my own veg in the summer. But all the time I’m doing these things I’m still thinking about the next book(s). So in that sense I’m never off duty, I’ll never retire…and I never have any free time.

What’s next for you?  I’m a bit wary of saying what’s next, because I don’t want to tempt fate. I have a contract for three books in the current series and I would like to do more. I also have a couple of women’s fiction novels on a dusty shelf, so one day I plan to rework them. Oh, and I have some ideas for psychological thrillers, too…

How much of this I actually get round to doing is open to question, of course, but there will certainly be something more to come.

Please share with us links to where you can be found online.

Facebook   Twitter   Instagram   Jo’s website

And you can download Death at Eden’s End here

I want to thank you, Jo for taking time out to chat with us today and continued success in your writing career.

Mary x

Thank you, Jo for joining me and sharing your good news about your recent launch. I wish you continued success with your writing career.

Mary x

Welcome Author, Penny Best.

Read all about Penny’s new series and she promises us it is Hot, Hot, Hot!!! 

Penny Best is the pen-name and persona for an explicit romance writer who has thrown caution to the wind. This fictional persona writes hot steamy quickie reads and has a degree in tantric sex therapy. 

Having spent her early twenties working in high-end gentleman’s clubs in London, Penny has now found her own inner goddess and runs naturalist yoga retreats for celebrities in exotic locations across the globe. As a competent sailor, Penny takes time out of her hectic writing and business schedule to battle the wilds of the Atlantic around her coastal based refurbished castle in the north-west of Ireland.  Penny is at her happiest when walking her trusty sheep dog. She also succumbs to the local gin, the odd hot whiskey and has fallen passionately in lust with her own rugged, Irish scuba diver. Penny’s dream is to meet Oprah Winfrey, Pierce Brosnan and Nora Roberts and to write for the rest of her days. 

Twitter: @pennybestwriter 
 
 
 
 

My thanks to Penny for paying me a visit and I wish her the very best with her new series.

A New Chapter in Life

Howdy, folks, well I’ve finished week three of a very exciting chapter in my life. I applied earlier this year and have been accepted for a MA (Master in Arts) in Creative Writing at the wonderful University of Limerick (UL).
Am I happy? I’m over the moon. It is a massive and major step for me as I’ve never been to college and I’m (ahem) late fifties. So when applying I was nervous, doubtful, praying, and everything in between that I was, 

1: Doing the right thing and 2: I would be accepted.

Obviously I was successful, I’m here aren’t I? Silly me, anyway the first morning was daunting. Traveling to and fro to the university means an early start and I don’t do mornings. But now I’m up at six thirty and out the door at seven fifteen the latest.

Breakfast in UL

When I arrive on campus, I either go to the library (which is amazing and where I’m sneaking time to write this) or sit in my car (especially if it’s lashing, which in Ireland is a kinda given) and write. I am using my time more effectively and my energy for writing/creating has soared. I am overflowing with ideas and notes are being taken which by the time I get around to working on them, I shall probably have forgotten what I meant, the scribbling is bad in places in fairness.

Morning Moon UL

My fellow students are friendly, talented and top class. I am lucky to be surrounded by such giving people. Although any time I’ve needed help navigating the vast grounds of UL, everyone has been so helpful. There is an amazing air of togetherness drifting through the university, every corner, corridor, pathway is filled with wanting to encourage each other, to help, to belong.

 

I could go on but I shall report again on my experience. But for now, it’s head down and write, write and read. Wait until I tell you about my awakening in poetry, I can’t get over it, honestly you’ll be wanting to grab a poetry book and sink into it. All for another post though.

The Living Bridge, UL

 

 

Flash 300 Max

Can I play?

(From FWG on FB, photo surce unknown to me)

He sat in deep thought. Had he gone wrong? Did he not plan it perfectly? Of course he did. In fact he paid so much attention to every detail that he had not rested for well over six days at first. He believed in free will. He trusted too much his army of angels moaned. Still, what he created, he had done so from love.

Now years on considering his work unfold beneath him, he sat curious, watching. He liked that woman and man were inquisitive, wanted to know more of the world about them. Sometimes they tested his patience but more often than not, they enthralled him. This group that had caught his attention were on an expedition to find new land. They were clever, they looked to the skies for guidance. Sometimes watching them move about and interact, their petty squabbles, their laughter, their joys and sorrows, he wished he was down there with them.

Once he had walked amongst them, so long ago. He held fond memories of those times, his mother and Joseph and relatives sharing family time. Carrying from birth the weight of salvation on his shoulders, he did his best to fit in, to be the son that others took for granted. But his destiny said otherwise.

Now, master of creation, he watched over this latest trek by a group who believed they knew it all yet how naïve they were of the dangers the cold lands held. To be close he took on the shape of a frozen landscape of ice that would make them question was it man or mountain. He liked to tease, his mischievous side sprinkling out over the world.

Being the Creator, was it better sometimes being the observer rather than being the observed?

Flash 300 Max

Doorway to Happiness

Photo from FWG prompt on FB, source unknown

This is my quiet place. Where I go to be still. I first found it when out for a walk to get away from him. Ever since he retired he had taken over the house, each aspect of it and it really was doing my head in. I couldn’t go for a coffee with the girls anymore. They soon drifted away, stopped asking me to join them.

“It’s cheaper to have one at home. On the pension now, we are.”

If I heard it one more time, I would throw the tea pot at him. My book-club meetings were another nuisance for him.

“We can start our own little club, more intimate and share a pot of tea, just the two of us.”

When I protested to this, he said we needed to watch our petrol spend, could one of the other ladies pick me up and drop me off? I explained none of them lived close enough to do this. He nodded and asked, “What shall we read first to get us started?”

My days became lonely, the nights too. Now we were at retirement age, we could do without that side of marriage he winked.

So that’s why I came here. Peace. Tranquillity. Alone time.

Why let him away with being so controlling, my few friends left ask. He’s not that bad I laugh, maybe I’m exaggerating it a bit. I add.

But I am a patient woman. Patient and wise.

Amazing how the universe works, send it out and it shall be answered I was told and I did. Still his sudden heart attack surprised us all. Now when life is stressed for me I visit here and tell the universe my worries.

So far she has never let me down.

From Why to How

Since I could walk I have always read, joining my local library when I was five years old. I still enjoy curling up each evening with whatever book I am reading and it is a very important part of my daily routine. Life without books is a horrible thought to me. When I enjoyed a book, I told my friends, shared it with them, written reviews were not something I knew of or where I’d go to write one. My understanding was that journalists for the national newspapers were the ones who got to review books. How times have changed. It is in the past number of years, that access to leaving a written review has appeared with sites like Amazon, Goodreads and other social sites. So is leaving a review important?

Yes, yes, and yes. Not just because I am now an author myself, but it really does help others who read the same genre as yourself or maybe encourage someone who has never read outside their comfort zone to do so. It also helps the author to spread the word about their books and we so do appreciate it, believe me. It was an accidental meeting of a school friend in my local supermarket a few weeks ago that reminded me about reviews. she kindly congratulated me on my novels, saying she got them on Amazon and so enjoyed them. I asked her did she leave a review after thanking her for her conmpliments. She never thought about it was her honest reply. So I explained how it helped me as an author if she could do so. She was delighted to oblige as she had not known the importance of it.

Is it hard to write a review? No is the answer. All it take’s is a few words whether you liked or disliked the book. There is no need to to write a lenghty synopsis style review if it makes you uncomfortable. Some readers love to share what they enjoyed/not enjoy about the book they read and that is fine if it is your style. You may even just mark the star rating and say nothing at all. Two Examples of a review:

(A) Don’t Call Me Mum is the story of Lacey Taylor and the life choices she needs to make with her mother, Cora Maguire. When Lacey’s decisions are not agreeable to Cora, she discovers just how hard life can be. But the cruel twist life throws in her path will have you reaching for the tissues and asking why is life so harsh? I so enjoyed all the feelings that this book brought up and highly recommend you get your hands on a copy fast.

(B) Just finished Don’t Call Me Mum, I loved it, every word kept me glued to the page. Grab your copy now. 5 Stars for sure.

The two above examples are short and sweet and easy to do.

A few words of advice, if there is a twist or surprise in the story, please Do Not Reveal It Without Warning Readers At The Start of the review there will be a reveal. So keep reading and consider leaving reviews, it helps both other readers and authors to spread the word about their books. Plus us writers will be very greatful indeed.

Click here to read My Husband’s Sin and Don’t Call Me Mum reviews to see how others do it and enjoy.